Elcho Island, Yirrkala in eastern Arnhem Land, has been quarantined as NT records 284 new cases of COVID-19

Elcho Island and Yirrkala in eastern Arnhem Land have been placed under quarantine after the Northern Territory recorded another 284 cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

The lockdowns were announced as COVID-related hospital admissions in NT rose to 39, with 25 considered acute.

Only one patient, in Alice Springs, is in intensive care.

Of those hospitalized, 19 are in Alice Springs, two in Tennant Creek and the rest at the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Northern Territory deputy chief minister Nicole Manison said 149 of the 284 new cases had been recorded from rapid antigen tests.

There are now approximately 3,951 active cases of coronavirus in the NT.

Across the country, 1,303 PCR tests were processed yesterday.

Of the 284 new cases in the Northern Territory, Ms Manison said four cases had been recorded at the Old Timers aged care facility, taking the total number at the facility to 15.

Two cases have been recorded at the Old Timers camp in Alice Springs.

Six cases were recorded at Alice Springs prison, and there was another case at an Alice Springs hostel.

Another case was also recorded at Darwin Prison, bringing the total number of cases to four.

NT Director of Health Dr Hugh Heggie said he was largely encouraged by the trend of the NT outbreak.

“The figures are very pleasing, [and] I will say that the numbers that I really like are the [hospital] presentations and ICU admissions,” he said.

“We think we’re mainly dealing with an outbreak of Omicron, and that’s fine. But it’s very, very transmissible. You can catch it very easily.”

Yirrkala entered a 72-hour lockdown.(ABC News)

Elcho Island and Yirrkala will be confined

Ms Manison said Elcho Island will enter a seven-day lockdown from 2pm today after the community of Galiwin’ku recorded 19 cases.

She said everyone who tested positive is self-isolating on the island.

“It’s a very isolated part of the Northern Territory. We have a lot of people there with complex needs,” she said.

“For this reason, we will move to a seven-day confinement.

“We know it’s not just Galiwin’ku, the main community, there are a lot of homelands there and they move between them on the island.”

Ms Manison said it would be “very difficult” to wipe out COVID-19 from Elcho Island, but a lockdown would help slow the spread of the virus.

She said vaccination rates on the island were “OK” but were lower than rates in some other East Arnhem communities.

The East Arnhem Land community of Yirrkala also went into lockdown today at 2pm for 72 hours after two positive cases were recorded in the community.

Positive wastewater was also returned to the community.

“We have sent additional resources to carry out tests throughout Yirrkala.”

Lockdowns apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

During the confinement period, people are only allowed to leave their homes for four reasons:

  • medical treatment, including screening and vaccination
  • essential goods and services
  • one hour of exercise each day (with masks to wear)
  • to care for someone who cannot care for themselves or to escape a situation of domestic violence.

Acting NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said more police and health care personnel were being sent to Elcho Island and Galiwin’ku to support communities during the lockdown.

He asked anyone planning to visit these communities in the coming days to reconsider their plans.

“We are going to get a proper assessment to make sure the right resources are applied going forward, to protect these communities and the Territories more broadly,” he said.

Ms Manison said there were accommodation options available for any residents of Elcho Island or Yirrkala who found themselves stranded outside their communities during the lockdowns.

More cases recorded in Yuendumu and Yuelamu

Ms Manison said there were seven more cases from Yuendumu and six from Yuelamu, bringing the total number of cases for those communities to 72, of which 57 were from Yuendumu.

She said the lockdowns in those communities – which are due to end on Sunday January 23 – were “going well” and the spread of the virus was slowing.

No new cases were recorded in Amoonguna, which is also on lockdown, meaning the total number of cases in the community remains at 21.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows for volume.
Play the video.  Duration: 6 minutes 26 seconds

Can you get COVID-19 more than once?

Loading the form…

Comments are closed.